Transformation of the Matrix

(c) Tilly Bridges

Popular sci-fi author Tilly Bridges has given us the chance to dive into the Matrix once again. Her book “Begin Transmission: The trans allegories of the Matrix” was published on June 27th, 2023 and is dedicated to “the trans girl who saw these movies before she knew she was trans.” The perception of the Matrix movies, written by the Wachowski sisters, was corrected around the release of “Resurrections:” The matrix is a trans allegory.

Dear Tilly, thanks so much for your precious time right after releasing a book.

The question is, how did mainstream media turn a blind eye to these allegories for about twenty years?

I think there are multiple reasons. The Wachowskis weren’t out as trans when the original trilogy was made, and the sad fact is that if they had been the movies would quite possibly never have been made. But the trans allegories of these films is so granular and specific to the trans experience that it’s very easy to miss if you’re not trans yourself. I couldn’t even really see them until watching them after accepting my transness and coming out, and then I saw them with entirely new eyes. In the United States, “mainstream media” is largely run by cisgender heterosexual white men, and I think this is one of those things you can’t really see without having the lived experience to recognize it, or a background as a writer that perhaps makes you more able to uncover what’s under the surface.

Neo is Trinity. What are the most moving moments they have?

The moment in the first movie when they’re standing on top of the elevator and Neo embraces Trinity for the first time is pretty special, because it’s the first time he’s really saying “this is the person I want to be.” Throughout the movies, every time they kiss is another vital moment of self-acceptance, of Neo choosing to love himself enough to do whatever is necessary to become his true self. They all come at turning points in his transition journey, and are vital. My favorite moment between them is also the most important, their final scene together in the coffee shop in the fourth movie. The forces of society are using all the power they have to keep them apart, to keep Neo from becoming Trinity, his true self. And when they finally unite there’s an explosion of light and they become truly unstoppable. It gives me chills just thinking about it.

How does it feel to break the walls of binary, to escape the system, to fly?

It’s freeing and terrifying all at once. There is no feeling in the world like finally being your true self after a lifetime of living the lie you were forced into, but doing so puts a target on your back. A lot of this world is still very transphobic, and so the more visible we are the bigger a target we become for the bigots who are uncomfortable that trans people don’tplay by the “rules” of society. But the good news is the more visible we are, the more we inspire other trans and queer people out there to know they can come out and find joy, too.

How are dehumanization and deceit represented looking at one of your favorite characters, the Merovingian?

My read on the Merovingian, which I explain in my book, is that he’s a trans person who has rejected their transness. And in denying his truth, by believing the lies society tells us that cisgender is the only way a human can be, he’s attained status and wealth and power and prestige. But it’s hollow. All of it. Because it’s all built on a lie, and he had to dehumanize himself to get it. There are further ways the Merovingian speaks to this, but they’re nuanced and there’s not enough room to get into them here without leaving out vital details. But at his core he’s someone who bought the lies society fed him, and never believed he had any other choice. And that’s caused him, in turn, to be enraged at Neo who had no need for society’s lies and cast them out.

What would you like to tell a questioning person planning to (re-)visit the Matrix now?

I think you just have to go in with an open mind and an open heart, whether you’re questioning if you might be trans or questioning if these movies really have a beating trans heart underneath all that amazing sci-fi flash. The evidence is there, and plentiful, in both of those situations. You just have to be ready and able to approach it with genuine curiosity. It so often keeps coming back to this: “I can only show you the door. You’re the one who has to walk through it.”

The book Begin Transmission is available at amazon and other bookshops ISBN: 9798887711263